Friday, April 8, 2011

boysterous action figure review and giveaway

 we just celebrated tate's birthday last weekend, and he was super excited to receive two boysterous action figures and a super cool carrying bag/playing field for them.

these action figures ($17 each from manhattan toys) are soft with high-quality, trendy clothing.  each action figure comes complete with his own sports equipment that magnetically sticks to his hands and feet.  boys can choose from slap shot sam, touchdown dylan, shredding sean, goalie gavin, and half pipe pete.  the action figures (3’’l x 2’’w x 8.5’’h) are geared for boys ages 3-8 (although zoe is about to turn nine and she wants to get one for her birthday now too!).

the extreme sports zone™ zipbin ($30) can either zip out to be a soccer/football/hockey field or you can zip it half way to be a hill or half-pipe for shredding sean or half pipe pete.  when boys are done playing, the whole thing zips up to make a handy carrying case for the sports figures to be carried to another place.

tate received goalie gavin and shredding sean along with the zipbin.  his eyes lit up when he opened his gift, and we right away had to remove the tags so he could give it a try.  the soccer ball sticks magnetically to gavin's hands and feet, and the snowboard sticks to sean's feet (it is a little too heavy for his hands to hold on to it, but his hands are magnetic too. 
tate likes setting sean up as the goalie and letting gavin kick the soccer ball at him.  when he's tired of that, we zip the bag into a half pipe and let sean and gavin take turns on the snowboard.

i like the toys because they are high-quality and good-looking.  manhattan toys emphasizes that the action figures are modeled after kids, not specific sports heroes.  i think they inspire a lot of creative play.  tate makes them talk to each other while they are playing, or, has them do crazy things with their magnetic hands and feet.  they are soft enough to sleep with, if tate wants to, and just the right size for when we are on-the-go.

we received a few other zipbins for christmas, and i love them.  it is so nice to have a carrying case and play mat in one.  our kids have gotten a lot of use out of theirs.  i like how this one is so versatile, offering the perfect playing field/zone for each of the different kinds of dolls.

i am excited to be able to offer you the opportunity to win an action figure for a child in your life.  just take a look at the boysterous action figures and tell me which one you think the boy in your life would enjoy.  for a second chance to win, you can follow this blog.  i will choose a winner using on friday, april 29 (usa residents only).
this is a mamabuzz review.  i received two action figures and the zipbin from manhattan toys for the purpose of this review.  regardless, all thoughts and opinions expressed here are purely my own.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

the doppleganger chronicles: the first escape review

i have noticed that graphic novels are getting more and more popular. tate just brought up home wizard of oz version that i'm still having mixed feelings about. other books are using an "illustro-novella" format, mixing text, illustrations and comics into one story.  i think it is a great way for kids who miss picture books to have that experience while reading something that is more at their level.

i recently had the opportunity to try the doppleganger chronicles: the first escape by g.p. taylor. i have found very little that i don't like about it. the reviews compare taylor to c.s. lewis and another says the book is "hotter than potter." i thought the book reminded me more of the lemony snicket's a series of unfortunate events.

in the novel, identical twins saide and sakia dopple and their friend erik morrissey ganger make their "home" at isambard dunstan's school for wayward children. the twins' usual routine of tormenting students and staff is interrupted when a wealthy lady comes and adopts saskia, but not sadie.

the rest of the book involves the twins' attempts to be reunited, battling enemies, conspiracies and various perils and possible traps.

in my opinion, the plotline is fairly gripping. while it seems like a "dark" story, there is a thread of hope and light throughout that reminds the reader that good triumphs over evil.  the message of promise if fairly understated and not overly preachy.

even though the doppleganger chronicles: the first escape is great for "reluctant readers," i think zoe will like reading something different from her usual fare. i am glad for her to have material like this that includes has a darker storyline, like the harry potter stories, but with overall better values that shares a message of promise and hope.

the good news is that there is already a second book available in the series, and a third is on the way. if your kids enjoy them, they will be able to continue in the series.

i received a free copy of this book from tyndale publishers  for the purpose of this review. regardless, the thoughts and opinions expressed here are purely my own.

Monday, April 4, 2011

the missionary review

The Missionary occasionally, as i am scoping the library shelves for something new to read, i will give an espionage/suspense/thriller novel a try. i have pretty high standards when it comes to what i like to read, so i am more likely to read a novel of this sort when someone else has recommended it to me.

in the case of the missionary, by william carmichael and david lambert, i noticed that it had received very good reviews from some people that i generally respect so i decided it was worth a try.

the missionary is about a man who has dedicated his life to helping out orphans in the barrios of caracas, venezuela.  david and his wife, christie, run a clinic/orphanage/school along with another older couple who founded the ministry.  every day he does his part to rescue sick, impoverished and malnourished kids from the street, but the fact that he has to leave so many suffering children behind each and every day is discouraging and disheartening.

one day, a stranger shows up, anxious to learn more about his work with the children.  when he leaves, he gives david a sizable donation and a mysterious offer for more money in exchange for a "small favor."  the relatively small decisions that david makes in relation to this stranger have very large consequences for the orphans, the country of venezuela, and (supposedly) the world.

overall, i would have to give this novel a "b."  i thought that the plot had the right amount of twists and surprises (although i was able to foresee a number of them).  i don't like a plot that is so complex and complicated that you feel like you have to take notes while you are reading.  this definitely meets that criteria.  i thought that the storyline was intriguing and engaging, with maybe only a minor lag here and there.

my criticism mainly was that at times it was really hard to like the main character, david.  as he struggles to make a decision, he is influenced by his desire to please his father and live up to heroic status of his older brother.  but it is hard to believe that david could really find a way to justify the decision he made.  when his father and brother discover his choice and have to help him resolve the problems that result, they are so condescending of david and his "foolish" choices that it is hard to feel sympathy for david at all.  he really was foolish and continues to act foolishly.  i would have appreciated a little more opportunity to feel connected to and sympathetic to david and his decisions.  even though david manages to regain the trust of his wife (more through her recognition of her own weaknesses than because of his ability to earn her trust), he doesn't regain my trust or that of his family by the end of the book.

if you like a fairly straightforward and relatively simple espionage/thriller story, without a lot of blood and gore, this might just be the book for you. you can find this book at amazon and christianbooks, but if you purchase it through the book's website, you can help a child in need at the same time.

this is a mamabuzz review. i received a free copy of this book from bring it on! communications for the purpose of this review. regardless, the thoughts and opinions expressed here are purely my own.

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